Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Raube v. American Airlines

March 13, 2008

DAWN RAUBE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC., A CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Dawn Raube brings this diversity action against Defendant American Airlines, seeking recovery in tort for injuries sustained while walking on a jet bridge owned by Defendant. (See R. 1-1, Complaint, at pages 6-8.) Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. (R. 28-1.) For the reasons below, the Court grants Defendant's Motion.

BACKGROUND

I. Local Rule 56.1

When determining summary judgment motions, the Court derives the background facts from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 statements. Local Rule 56.1 assists the Court by "organizing the evidence, identifying undisputed facts, and demonstrating precisely how each side propose[s] to prove a disputed fact with admissible evidence." Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000). Specifically, Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Servs., Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004). Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) requires the nonmoving party to admit or deny every factual statement proffered by the moving party and to concisely designate any material facts that establish a genuine dispute for trial. See Schrott v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 403 F.3d 940, 944 (7th Cir. 2005).

The Seventh Circuit has "repeatedly held that a district court is entitled to expect strict compliance with Rule 56.1." Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., L.L.C., 401 F.3d 803, 809 (7th Cir. 2005) (collecting cases; internal quotation marks and citations omitted). If a party fails to comply with Local Rule 56.1, the Court disregards putative "facts" proffered by that party. Id. at 810 (citing Midwest Imports, Ltd. v. Coval, 71 F.3d 1311, 1316 (7th Cir. 1995)); accord, e.g., Cichon, 401 F.3d at 809-10; see also Roger Whitmore's Auto. Serv., Inc. v. Lake County, 424 F.3d 659, 664 n.2 (7th Cir. 2005) ("It is not the duty of the district court to scour the record in search of material factual disputes . . . .") (collecting cases). In addition, the Court deems all well-supported material facts set forth in the movant's statement to be admitted unless controverted in the non-movant's statement by specific references. See Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 584 (N.D. Ill. 2000) (Castillo, J.) ("[A] general denial is insufficient to rebut a movant's factual allegations; the non-movant must cite specific evidentiary materials justifying the denial."); accord, e.g., L. R. 56.1(b)(3); Cichon, 401 F.3d at 808 ("Our review of Cichon's response establishes that a great many of Cichon's written attempts in opposition to Exelon's statement of material facts amount to nothing more than conclusory statements, unaccompanied by required record citations . . . constituting a violation of Local Rule 56.1."); Koszola v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chicago, 385 F.3d 1004, 1108 (7th Cir. 2004).

Plaintiff has fallen short of her Local Rule 56.1 obligations. In response to Defendant's Motion, Plaintiff has filed only a three-page document titled "Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment" (hereinafter "Opposition"). (R. 37-1.) Plaintiff's single filing contravenes Local Rule 56.1(b), which requires a party opposing summary judgment to file multiple documents with the Court, including "a supporting memorandum of law" as well as "a concise response to the movant's statement [of material facts]." See L.R. 56.1(b)(2)-(3). It is unclear whether Plaintiff's Opposition is meant to be a legal memorandum, a response to Defendant's statement of uncontested facts, or a combination of the two.*fn1 The Opposition discusses, in a general manner, some of Defendant's factual claims, but it does not refer to specific paragraphs from Defendant's Statement, nor does it cite any evidentiary material. (See R. 37-1, at ¶¶ 3-7.) Rather, the Opposition contains only vague descriptions of a few potential factual issues and then states in a conclusory manner that each is a "genuine issue of material fact." (Id.) As such, Plaintiff's Opposition fails to satisfy Local Rule 56.1. See L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B) (the non-movant's response must contain "a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record and other supporting materials relied upon"); accord, e.g., Malec, 191 F.R.D. at 584 ("[A] general denial is insufficient to rebut a movant's factual allegations; the non-movant must cite specific evidentiary materials justifying the denial."). Accordingly, the Court deems the facts proffered in Defendant's Statement to be admitted. See, e.g., Schrott v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 403 F.3d 940, 944 (7th Cir. 2005) ("The district court was entitled to take these facts as uncontested, as the local rule provides."); Ammons, 368 F.3d at 817 ("Given their importance, we have consistently and repeatedly upheld a district court's discretion to require strict compliance with its local rules governing summary judgment.")

(quoting Bordelon, 233 F.3d at 527); Midwest Imports, 71 F.3d at 1316 ("[I]t is a reasonable judgment on the part of the district court that strict, consistent, 'bright-line' enforcement is essential to obtaining compliance with the rule and to ensuring that long-run aggregate benefits in efficiency inure to district courts.").

II. Undisputed Facts

As discussed above, the facts contained in Defendant's Statement are deemed to be admitted by Plaintiff. Moreover, because Plaintiff has failed to comply with the rules, the Court will not root through the record to make his case for him. See Corley v. Rosewood Care Ctr., 388 F.3d 990, 1001 (7th Cir. 2004). The Court does, however, resolves any genuine factual ambiguities in Plaintiff's favor. See Foley v. City of Lafayette, 359 F.3d 925, 928 (7th Cir. 2004).

In May of 2004, Plaintiff was a passenger on an American Airlines flight from Miami to Chicago. (R. 32-1, at ¶ 1.) After the aircraft landed safely in Chicago, Plaintiff deplaned and stepped onto a jet bridge, which was owned and maintained by Defendant. (Id., at ¶¶ 2, 18-19.) A jet bridge is an enclosed structure that connects the aircraft to the terminal building (Id., at ¶ 24), and is designed to protect airline passengers from the weather while they board and deplane.

(R. 33-1, Ex. B, at 23:23-24:5.) Several warning signs posted on the jet bridge displayed the words "Caution, uneven surfaces" and displayed a picture of a person tripping. (R. 32-1, at ¶¶ 29-31.) The jet bridge is used roughly 16 times per day by a total of approximately 3,200 passengers. (Id., at ¶¶ 35, 37.)

The jet bridge was congested with other passengers at the time Plaintiff walked onto it. (Id., at ¶ 4.) Plaintiff was being "rushed" by the other passengers, so she and a co-worker moved to the right side of the jet bridge to allow other passengers to walk around them. (Id., at ¶ 6.) As Plaintiff moved to the right side of the jet bridge, she was "nudged a bit" by another passenger. (Id., at ¶¶ 12-13.) As a result of this nudge, Plaintiff tripped, fell, and twisted her ankle. (Id., at ¶¶ 10, 12-13.) Plaintiff has admitted that the cause of her fall was the "nudge" she received from the other passenger. (Id., at ¶¶ 12-13.) Plaintiff never noticed anything about the condition of the jet bridge that she thought was dangerous or defective. (Id., at ¶ 9.)

Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against American Airlines in Illinois state court on April 26, 2006, seeking damages for injuries related to her fall. (R. 1-1.) The case was removed to federal court by Defendant on May 17, 2006, and slated on Judge Filip's docket. (See id., at pages 1-3.) ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.